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Critical Podcasting

(co-written by Ada Jaarsma & Anna Mudde)

We are each philosophy professors, and we’re both increasingly drawn to audio as a medium for critical inquiry, especially in relation to teaching and learning.  The world of podcasts is growing all the time, and there are many podcasts that lend themselves directly—as open access educational resources—to the classroom.  (See our curated list of “especially teachable” episodes here).  Audio, in the form of recorded and edited conversations, adds invaluable dimensions to the exchange of ideas: the tone of a person’s voice, as they express a story or assert a claim, makes the somatic and affective aspects of arguments more apparent.  (“What happens when scholarly communication gets intimate?” is a question that arises in the context of academic podcasting (Altman 2015, 573)). As well, when a podcast is distributed in an accessible format, we are able to read the transcript or listen to an episode, enabling a greater range of communication-styles.  And, significantly for higher education contexts in particular, podcasts tend to be free to download and exchange, and so the wide range of podcasts expands the possibilities of curricular content that students can access without accumulating higher educational costs.

But we’ve been wondering something:  what’s the rationale for our assumption that audio is an apt medium for critical, collaborative thinking?  And, if we grant this assumption, what would be a helpful basis for choosing which podcasts to incorporate into our classes, podcasts that exemplify what we’re calling “critical podcasting”?   Read more